Day 5 – Mr Bonjour!

I feel there is a bit of false advertising going on with the Donauradweg – the Danube Cycle Trail. You’d expect the trail to, well follow the Danube, right? Well those Fränkische Alb tourist people have managed to get the cycle trail to meander not along the river, but up dell and down dale so unsuspecting cyclists can see their offerings, whether they want to or not. Not that the region isn’t picturesque, it’s just it was a bit of a surprise, that’s all. If I wanted hills I might have opted for the Wicklow 200 instead.

Cycling the Danube Trail is a different experience; although it is mostly you and your thoughts, you do meet fellow cyclists along the way. You recognise people from campsites and no matter what your pace, with stops and detours, you tend to rendezvous with the same cyclists each day. Today I passed a skinny little Frenchman who I recognised from our camp site the evening before. So we greeted each other with a cheery (and heartfelt) Bonjour! Later that morning the same Frechman was stopped at the side of the track – I stopped too for a snack, with the idea of striking up a bit of a conversation- kindred spirits and all that. Unwrapping my snickers I greeted him with another Bonjour! But that was where the conversation began and ended, for I have no French and he had neither English or German. For a minute or two we tried to communicate through babble and hand gestures but soon gave up. We eat in silence, somewhat uncomfortably, until a discrete period of time passed so I could head off on my way.

Well, that was not the end of our encounters; however we managed it we passed at least four more time during the day’s cycle- each time we shared a Bonjour! but it was getting a bit ridiculous.

The afternoon cycle took me through farmland; cropland, mostly wheat and barley, but also alot of maize, potatoes and spinach. There were also strips of sunflowers planted around the edges of some fields so the landscape should look even prettier next month. Interesting that outdoors, there was not an animal to be seen. For a naturalist, the landscape offered meagre pickings; a couple of roe deer, red kites overhead and singing yellowhammers, plenty of yellowhammers.

In the late afternoon I was planning my stop for the evening and decided I would stay in a campsite at Neuburg, about 20km further on. I rounded a corner and who should be on the track ahead of me again but Mr Bonjour. Ah jaysus! Well I slowed thinking I could amble on behind him, but as I slowed, so did he. And he slowed…. I have no idea what kind of a game he was playing but I’d never get to Neuburg at this rate. As the track rose a bit, I saw my opportunity. A short gentle incline of about 50m lay ahead. I powered on, passing him with our by now customary Bonjour! making a break for it. I was pulling away, delighted to see the back of my French friend. And just as I was beginning to feel the exertions of my spurt, what happened but as I rounded a corner what did I see but feckin’ Alp D’Huez rising up ahead of me! Well I don’t know about the French man, but I nearly killed myself on that climb. But as I crested the summit, I achieved one thing, it was Au revoir! to Le Frenchman.

Explored a bit of Neuburg before finding the campsite for the night- it is a walled town with beautiful cobbled streets. Treated myself to a massive iced coffee from an Italian ice cream outlet- felt I deserved it.Then off to the campsite. I registered and was allocated my pitch- as I turned into where I was directed, who was sitting there beside his tent but Mr Bonjour!

Managed 100km for the day.